Did you know that there are more than 2,000 different species of fleas, according to CDC.gov? These nasty parasites do best in warm and humid environments, and they feed off the blood of a host animal. Dogs are an ideal host for these pests, which is why every pet parent needs to know how to remove fleas from a dog. In this article and video, we'll cover everything you must know.
First, it's important for pet owners to understand how fleas survive and procreate. During its life cycle, a flea changes from an egg, to larva, to pup, and finally to an adult. Take a look at the image to the right (click to expand) – it indicates the whole process we're going to cover.
An adult female flea can live for more than three weeks and lay 20-30 eggs each day! Fleas can also survive for more than 100 days without a blood meal, and they often do. This is why it's important to learn how to remove fleas from a dog, and do so ASAP.
Pet owners often forget that dogs aren't the only hosts for fleas.
If you've come in contact with fleas before, it's possible that they have infested your house as well, and that requires a whole other procedure. Even though most fleas will usually live on dogs, they drop onto furniture, carpeting, upholstery and basically all over your house as your dog goes about his daily routine at home.
If your dog had/has fleas, it's almost guaranteed they are in your home too.
We'll get to this later, but just keep in mind that even if you got rid of fleas on your dog, you're not necessarily in the green zone yet. There are other things to consider.
This is what a flea looks like under a magnifying glass:
Remember this guy. You need to make sure to regularly check for them on your dog.
In fact, you should check your dog for fleas at least twice a week. Early detection is the key to getting rid of fleas quickly and much more easily before they take over your whole house. Of course, the most effective way is regular use of preventative products which will keep your dog from contracting these pests in the first place.
The most common preventative flea solutions are dog flea collars and dog flea pills. These have been shown in studies and tests to be the most effective way to both prevent and get rid of fleas on dogs, cats and other animals.
There are also natural remedies for fleas; however, they aren't nearly as effective as commercial products. For home flea invasions and to rid your house of them, there are separate solutions which we'll talk about below (flea bombs coming up!)
How to Remove Fleas From A Dog 101
1. Best Dog Flea Prevention
The best thing you can do is try to prevent a flea infestation in the first place. There are many commercial products available to help you with this, and a few natural remedies that some owners swear by, but the level of efficacy vary greatly.
Flea collars and topical flea treatments are the two most commonly used preventatives. The best dog flea collars and topical treatments are almost 100% guaranteed to keep fleas off your dog. And even though studies have shown them to be completely safe to use with dogs (contrary to popular belief), their biggest con is the price; they're expensive.
Other dog owners choose to use edible dog flea pills like these to keep fleas off their pet. They are more convenient than dog flea collars or topical flea treatments, but they are also costly. Some consumers also question the safety of these pills, but we are yet to see any studies.
There are alternatives to commercial flea products.
If you're looking for a safe preventative that is more cost effective, you can try some of the natural treatments that many pet owners recommend, but unfortunately, not all of them work. Apple cider vinegar and essential oils are the two most popular choices.
Natural flea solution: Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your pet's water bowl each day. It has been said to keep fleas from infesting your Fido. This is the option that I myself sometimes use, because apple cider vinegar also aids in a healthy skin and coat.
You can also make your own natural dog flea shampoo. These types of natural flea shampoos don't necessarily prevent your dog from attracting the nasty parasite, but they do slightly help to deal with them. Here's how to make a homemade dog flea shampoo.
Finally, essential oils may also prevent fleas from jumping on your dog. They need to be mixed with a carrier oil, but do some research before making your own dog flea spray.
Essential oils that repel fleas from dogs include:
- Clary sage
2. How to Remove Fleas On a Dog
If your dog does happen to get fleas, you've only got one choice. You need to be consistent and diligent with your dog's flea treatment. You also need to act FAST.
After you've seen the fleas, waiting just one day could add hundreds of fleas to the population in your home. You'll need to treat your dog as soon as you spot the first flea.
Every pet owner must have a good dog flea shampoo on hand at all times. You'll need to give your dog a flea bath, and let the shampoo sit in his coat for at least 10 minutes.
We've covered how to make your own homemade dog flea shampoo above, but if you want a commercial product for a few more serious flea infestation cases, here are the best medicated shampoos for dogs (see number #5).
There are also dog flea shampoo bars. They're a little different to regular dog flea shampoos, but not by much. A while ago I have reviewed the best dog shampoos including the shampoo bar, so take a look here (see my last pick – Wondercide).
Finally, you can also use a dog flea spray when you're trying to find the best way of how to remove fleas on a dog. There are sprays that are made to be used on your pet and others that are formulated to be used in your home and on your furniture. Fortunately for all of us pet owners, the best dog flea sprays are safe to use on your pet and in your home.
Whether you choose a dog flea shampoo or spray, you'll need to follow the instructions on the packaging to a letter. Some products need to sit in the coat and on your dog's skin for a specific amount of time. If you rinse them off early, they will not be effective.
You also need to be sure that you select a flea product that is safe for your pet. Look for as may natural ingredients as possible, and make sure that they don't include any toxic to dogs chemicals on the list.
3. Removing Fleas From Your Home
When it comes to the discussion of how to get rid of fleas on a dog, you also need to consider the environment that your canine lives in. There are many ways to remove fleas from your home, but none of them are effective enough on their own. Yes, I've tried.
Your first best defense against fleas in your house is a good pet hair vacuum cleaner.
Unlike some flea treatments, a vacuum will get rid of a flea in any stage of its life cycle. Many flea sprays only kill adult fleas, but a vacuum will suck up eggs as well as adults.
Remember that when you're finished vacuuming, you need to dispose of the contents (whether it's a bag or a canister) in an outdoor trash receptacle ASAP.
You'll also need to wash all the bedding (human and animal) in your home. Any area that your dog sleeps in, or comes in contact with, will need to be thoroughly cleaned. You'll also need to treat your dog houses and dog crates that your pet sleeps in, both indoors and outdoors.
You can also try to bomb your house.
No, not THAT type of bombing.
This wouldn't be an article about how to remove fleas from a dog if I didn't mention flea bombs. What's a flea bomb, you ask?
Flea bombs are designed to control heavy infestation of fleas and other similar parasites in your house. They are extremely effective, because they contain chemicals that will be sprayed into the air as soon as you press the release button on the flea bomb.
Be very careful when using them. If you do not follow the instructions indicated on the package, you will risk poisoning yourself, the other people in your home and your pets.
You can purchase flea bombs in almost any store including department stores, hardware stores, pet stores or just on Amazon. These are the most popular flea bombs. Be sure to follow the instructions included with the flea bomb exactly to the letter to avoid problems.
If you're trying to find the best way of how to remove fleas from a dog in your house, flea bombs are a great option provided you're careful. The fog released by these products will get into every nook and cranny of your home to kill all the fleas and flea eggs with nothing else left in your house to procreate; there will be no future fleas.
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